The US Department of Defense (DOD) is ensuring a smooth transition of power, a top Indian-American official at the Pentagon said, and asserted it is fully cooperating with the Biden administration in this regard.
The Biden team initially requested 130 interviews, eventually increasing that to 225 “a far greater number than prior administrations. Till date, the Department of Defense has completed 213, involving over 550 senior department officials,” Kash Patel, chief of staff to the Department of Defense and to the acting Secretary of Defence, wrote in an op-ed to Fox News on Wednesday.
Patel, who is the highest-ranking Indian-American civilian in the Pentagon, said the department also completed 261 requests for information and 43 initial transition books constituting upwards of 7,200 pages.
This was all accomplished amid the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, which has caused the Pentagon to operate with only 40 per cent of its workforce in the building, he wrote.
The Indian-American refuted allegations from the Biden-Harris transition team that the Pentagon has not been co-operating with them.
“Shortly before Christmas, Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller paused the interview process for one day (Dec 18, 2020) so that our senior leadership could focus on other pressing national security matters, including threats from Iran, a data breach, and two COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.
“Though this one-day pause caused much false speculation that the DOD was halting the transition entirely, Acting Secretary Miller and I both made sure to reach out to the transition team for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to personally guarantee them that the transition activities would resume and the media chatter about nefarious plots was just that: chatter,” Patel wrote.
Transition activities did resume as promised, and 20 more interviews have occurred since, he added.
“Here at the Department of Defense, we will ensure that the new leaders of the world’s most powerful military are fully prepared to assume the helm at noon Jan 20. I wish our team of more than three million the utmost success and we, as a nation, are indebted to them for their service to our country,” Patel said.